An Old Faith in the New World, by David and Tamar De Sola Pool
Shearith Israel—the “Remnant of Israel”—is the oldest Jewish congregation on the mainland of North America. Born in remote Colonial days when the first Jewish settlers worshipped together in a candle-lit room of a New Amsterdam home, it is now, three hundred years later, a symbol of the continuity of the Jewish attachment to America.
What Shearith Israel began in 17th-century New York was something new—a forerunner, in a sense, of the Jewish “melting pot” that has broken down in this country the barriers Jews had carried with them from Europe, not only between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, but between German and East European Jews, between Lithuanian and Galician Jews, dissolving the old strictures which kept them apart socially, in their worship, and sometimes even in pursuit of their livelihoods. This breakdown, which we now take for granted, was consummated only in the past half century, after the arrival of the majority of Jewish immigrants. But the evidence that it was inevitable in the American environment is to be found in the earlier experience of Shearith Israel.
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